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World Wide Web Consortium Issues "Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One" as a W3C Recommendation


Core Web Architectural Principles Described and Explained

The World Wide Web Consortium announces the publication of "Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One" as a W3C Recommendation. The authors of this document, W3C’s Technical Architecture Group (TAG), have documented the architectural principles that make the Web of today work well, and will help build a better Web tomorrow.

Technical Architecture Group Distills Conventional Wisdom

In November 2001, W3C responded to a clear demand from the Web community and the W3C Membership to write down a description of the architecture of the Web. Aspects of the architecture have been described and debated many times in the past, but the overall principles which make the Web as we know it work, and work well, have not previously been described in a single, coherent document by a group of acknowledged experts, and reviewed in such a focused manner by the community.

"All TAG participants, past and present, have had a hand in many parts of the design of the Web," explains Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director, and co-Chair of the TAG. "In the Architecture document, they emphasize what characteristics of the Web must be preserved when inventing new technology. They notice where the current systems don’t work well, and as a result show weakness. This document is a pithy summary of the wisdom of the community."

Wide Community Review Ensures Real World Relevance

The TAG conducted its work on an active, public mailing list, which helped ensure that its description of the Web reflected the real world concerns of developers. In some cases, principles were found to be widely applicable. In others, principles had a more restricted domain or represented tradeoffs between conflicting requirements. The TAG documented the points to be considered, to allow technology developers to make well-informed choices. "The discussion process produced a wider appreciation of the design principles on which the Web is based," notes Chris Lilley, TAG participant, "and the Architecture document crystallizes that shared understanding for easy reference."

Essential Web design principles should not be merely understanding among small groups of expert developers. By collecting and debating issues in an open forum, the TAG has documented and clarified those principles which have stood the test of time and are widely implemented. As the Web continues to grow on an unprecedented scale, new generations of developers need to have a concise reference to the important design concepts. Newer additions can then take advantage of a secure and scalable foundation. It is gratifying to note that some university courses in Distributed Systems have already taken up the TAG’s work as a course text, and it is already influencing product design.

Authors Represent Expertise in Web and Applications Technologies

The eight participants in the W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) elected by the W3C Advisory Committee and appointed by the Director are Dan Connolly (W3C), Paul Cotton (Microsoft), Roy Fielding (Day Software), Chris Lilley (W3C), Noah Mendelsohn (IBM), Norman Walsh (Sun Microsystems), and co-Chairs Stuart Williams (Hewlett-Packard) and Tim Berners-Lee (W3C). Past TAG participants are Tim Bray (Antarctica Systems), Mario Jeckle (DaimlerChrysler), and David Orchard (BEA Systems). Norm Walsh and Ian Jacobs (W3C) served as editors.

Architectural Work Continues

Volume One of the Web Architecture significantly advances the state of the art, documenting long-established principles which are well understood and proven in use. In addition, the TAG is tracking principles that are currently being tested in rapidly evolving areas. Future TAG publications will build on Volume One with lessons learned from integrating Web services, the Semantic Web, and mobile Web. A single shared Web space is of global benefit. This goal can only be achieved if all the parts work together harmoniously.

An election for the four open TAG seats begins today and runs through mid-January 2005. The W3C Advisory Committee will cast their votes during this time for these positions. Berners-Lee has already nominated Vincent Quint of INRIA to fill the vacant appointed seat.

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. More than 350 organizations are Members of W3C.

Marie-Claire Forgue | alfa
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